USAF Officer May Become DOD’s First Female Muslim Chaplain

Air Force Second Lt. Saleha Jabeen is on the road to becoming the first female Muslim chaplain in the US military.

The former Army Medical Corpsman received her Ecclesiastical Endorsement from the Islamic Society of North America and commissioned into the Air Force as a chaplain candidate on Dec. 18, 2019, according to a Jan. 10 USAF release. She will get a duty station assignment once she finishes training, it said.

“Any time we advance religious freedoms, it’s a win for all persons of faith,” said Air Force Chief of Chaplains Maj. Gen. Steven Schaick in the release. “The fact is America is a place where the Constitution guarantees your freedom to embrace or abstain from religious ideals, and the Chaplain Corps, which Jabeen just entered, exists to ensure every airman has a religious freedom advocate. This is a big day not just for Muslims, but for persons of all faiths.”

As of November 2019, there were only 161 Active Duty female chaplains in the US military, compared with 2,647 male ones, according to data from the Office of the Secretary of Defense that was obtained by Air Force Magazine. These totals include Coast Guard chaplains, OSD noted.

Jabeen said she wants to inspire people to chase their destinies.

“When other people look at what I have done, I want them to know that God has a plan for you and to go out there and be the best version of yourself and accomplish the mission you were specifically designed to complete,” she said in the release. “Don’t let anyone or anything stop you and when they try—be kind, be generous, be resilient, and don’t quit.”